The beautifully diverse state of Wisconsin is crossed with beautiful and scenic rivers frequented by both kayakers and canoeists, as well as those enjoying a day of tubing, rafting, or just relaxing on the river. With more than 40 rivers for kayaking and canoeing, it is no wonder the whitewater kayaking in Wisconsin is some of the best in the nation. This brief guide will cover some of the best whitewater kayaking spots in Wisconsin.
The Bad River, winding through northern Wisconsin, offers more than 40 miles of whitewater for kayaking and rafting. Beginning at Devil’s Gate footbridge in Ashland County, intermediate whitewater kayakers can brave class I through III rapids for 18.8 miles of scenic, mountainous views before ending at Elm Hoist Road. Another popular stretch of the Bad River for advanced whitewater kayaking also begins at Devil’s Gate footbridge and boasts 6.2 miles of class III-V rapids, as well as breathtaking views of the Gogebic Range in Wisconsin.
There are many other sections of the Bad River that offer fun and exciting whitewater kayaking adventures for experienced paddlers, as well as a few calmer Wisconsin kayaking rivers nearby. If you are planning on kayaking Bad River, there are a limited number of hotels in the area and a few nearby campgrounds. It is recommended that you make reservations for overnight accommodations in advance. The best time to kayak the Bad River is in the spring, but the landscape is quite colorful in the fall. A variety of plant and animal life is abundant along the undeveloped shoreline and Native American artifacts have been discovered as well.
The Montreal River, passing through Iron and Gogebic Counties in Wisconsin, offers 40 miles of whitewater kayaking for paddlers of all experience levels. The Erickson Road to Saxon Falls Dam section of the Montreal River is a relaxing 16.7 mile paddle with class I and II rapids, perfect for beginners or to warm up for the highly difficult western fork of the river. The challenging western branch of the Montreal River features class II through V rapids and several waterfalls for an ultimate whitewater kayaking experience.
Accommodations can be found at several nearby hotels and campgrounds. The water gates at the area dams can create very low water levels at times, so it is recommended to check on gate openings before planning your whitewater kayaking trip. If the water is too low, the Montreal River is practically impassable. You can also enjoy hiking to Wisconsin’s beautiful waterfalls or whitewater kayaking on the other numerous rivers nearby.
There are plenty of majestic rivers that offer outstanding whitewater kayaking in Wisconsin, from a refreshing paddle down the east fork of the Chippewa River to the heart-stopping rapids of the Potato River. Several of Wisconsin’s whitewater rivers are perfect for multiple-day kayak trips. Plan ahead and make the necessary preparations for overnight camping along the river and remember a durable, lightweight camping tent like the Coleman Exponent Krypton 2 that comfortably sleeps two and weighs less than 8 pounds.